Monday, July 1, 2019

Afternoon tea with Wimbledon on my mind

One queen is already gone, but this one was on hand in the tea room
I'm rarely in the part of town where the (very authentic) English Tea Room is located, but today, I had to be in that neighborhood, so I decided to visit a whimsical jewelry store I kind of like. The jewelry store was gone, but the tea room was as busy as ever. And on the first day of Wimbledon, it seemed only right that I stop and have a cup or two. I am the daughter of an Englishwoman and I do like good tea.

While I sipped my Abbey Blend (chocolate, cherry, maple, caramel, and vanilla flavors), I finally had an opportunity to relax and think about everything that happened today at Wimbledon. 

Where to start? Obviously, the big news of the day is that 15-year-old Coco Gauff upset one of her idols, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams--in the first round.

Gauff had already won three qualifying rounds, and sometimes--at least in the early stages of an event--that momentum can be quite helpful. Gauff may have been somewhat anxious, but it didn't show. Venus congratulated her after her straight set win, and Gauff thanked her for paving the way for the moment that resulted in the great champion's exit from Wimbledon. 

Next for Gauff is Magdalena Rybarikova, a skilled grass court player who (not surprisingly) upset 10th seed Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets today.

Sabalenka wasn't the only seed to fall. 23rd seed Caroline Garcia also lost in straight sets (one a bagel set) to Zhang Shuai, 29th seed Dasha Kasatkina lost (again, not a surprise) to Ajla Tomljanovic. and 16th seed and French Open breakout star Marketa Vondrousova was defeated by Madison Brengle. 

And though she was unseeded (which actually says everything), Alona Ostapenko--who, lately, has shown signs of a comeback--was taken out in straight sets by Hsieh Su-Wei.

But the big upset of the day (again, not totally surprising) was Yulia Putintseva's defeat of 2nd seed Naomi Osaka. This is the third time that they have played one another, and the third time that Putintseva has walked away the winner. Fond of slicing her opponents as though she were julienning carrots, Putintseva just kept at it, as she always does, with Osaka, and Osaka very much appeared to not have a plan. It was over in straight sets.

Recently, in Birmingham, when Osaka lost in straight sets to Putintseva in the second round, the world number 2 failed to show up for her press conference, and was fined $4,000. Today, after her loss to the Kazahk, she showed up in the press room, but after about four minutes of looking very downcast and talking in a flat voice with the media, she left the room because she felt tears coming on.

Osaka is 21 years old, which is pretty young, but she often comes across as considerably younger, and she often speaks in a flat voice and displays little to no affect. Being on the tour is brutal; being a world renowned sports star is even more brutal, especially for a woman. Whether she keeps winning or continues to lose, Osaka will need to have the skills necessary to express herself and protect herself.

Putintseva, for her part, will next play Switzerland's Victorija Golubic.


colt13 said...

Julienning? You are forcing me to use a thesaurus :)

Osaka actually had a good game plan. Was way in on Putintseva's second serves, just hit too many of them into the net.

The press conference is a problem. You can't just deal with the press when things are good, and that monotone/disinterested affect turns off fans and sponsors.

Diane said...

She did come in with a plan, but lacked the authority to execute it, and then, II guess, got lost. When it didn’t work for her, she became kind of deer-in-the-headlights, which I’ve seen from Osaka before.

You’re right, the press conference bored/uninterested attitude is a real turn-off, though—for now—it looks like a lot of fans are feeling sorry for her and cutting her some slack. But she’s 21 years old and an elite athlete! She needs to learn some off-court skills. (I suspect, however, that this issue isn’t going to go awayany time soon.)